On Wednesday 15 November 2023, Presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden held what was described in Xinhua as “a positive, comprehensive and constructive summit, charting the course for improving and developing bilateral ties” during a four hour meeting in which “the two heads of state had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on strategic and overarching issues critical to the direction of China-US relations and on major issues affecting world peace and development.”
The summit hopefully represents an important step forward in terms of reducing tensions – tensions which, it must be said, have been generated exclusively by the US side as part of its New Cold War and its strategy of containing and encircling China and suppressing its rise. The Xinhua report cites Friends of Socialist China co-editor Keith Bennett on President Xi’s agreeing to the summit in spite of a long series of US provocations:
“It is a journey of a peacemaker and of a responsible leader and statesman with a sense of great responsibility to his people, the times, history and humanity as a whole.”
Of particular and urgent importance is the agreement signed between the two countries to step up their cooperation on tackling climate change and protecting the environment. The Global Times article we republish below notes that “China and the US agreed to jointly tackle global warming and operationalize a working group focused on areas including energy transition, methane, the circular economy and resource efficiency, low-carbon development and deforestation.”
However, the article correctly warns that “Washington should also take concrete actions and not walk back its own promises on climate cooperation.” At a time when the US is imposing sanctions and tariffs on Chinese renewable energy materials, and when China has emerged as the world’s leading renewable energy power, the US needs to demonstrate its seriousness when it comes to preventing climate breakdown.
We also republish below an interesting article by John Wojcik in People’s World, written shortly before the Xi-Biden summit, summarising the state of US-China relations and detailing how “those relations have been made unstable by continued U.S. attacks on and propaganda against China’s economic and political interests.” Wojcik calls on the US to work urgently and intensively with China on the pressing issues facing all humanity:
“At home in the US, Biden has to do battle with powerful fossil fuel capitalist interests to realize any of his environmental goals. In China, he could have a great friend with whom to cooperate on these matters.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping trying to repair damage done by Biden
People’s World, 15 November 2023
Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping are meeting near San Francisco Wednesday, a get-together at which Biden claims he hopes to “stabilize” relations with China. He doesn’t mention, of course, that those relations have been made unstable by continued U.S. attacks on and propaganda against China’s economic and political interests.
The Biden administration has consistently tried to dictate to China that it end its friendly relations with Russia and numerous other countries, and it has levied all kinds of sanctions against countries that China deals with and against China itself.
Biden continues to hypocritically express concern about human rights in China even as his administration funds and fuels Israeli-propagated genocide in Gaza.
The two leaders, who are meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Cooperation Forum summit, reportedly haven’t even spoken to one another in over a year. The U.S. hasn’t been silent during that period when it comes to China, though, having used every excuse to mount major propaganda campaigns against the Asian nation.
The two countries, for example, have long surveyed the military and other activities of one another, but the U.S. blew into major proportions the issue of a harmless balloon that had wandered off course over U.S. territory.
The U.S. flies armed airplanes over and near Chinese waters and has, on occasion, almost collided into Chinese planes over the South China Sea.
Also, during the year that the two leaders have not spoken, the U.S. has, without any proof, campaigned against what it says are Chinese intentions to “take over” Taiwan, an island off the coast of China that actually does belong to China—a reality even the U.S. recognizes.
Biden has used as justification for his war against Russia in Ukraine the excuse that “winning” in Ukraine is an essential first step in halting Chinese aggression against Taiwan. There has been, needless to say, no such aggression against Taiwan by China.
At the San Francisco meeting, according to the White House PR people, Biden is seeking to show the world that while the U.S. and China are economic competitors, they are not locked in a major battle for supremacy with global implications.
That flies in the face of reality, though, since his administration and hosts of top U.S. lawmakers constantly identify China as the “main security threat” facing the U.S.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The main security threat facing the U.S. is the threat of fascism and right-wing domestic terror coming from within our own borders.
China, unlike the U.S., is not involved in any military conflict anywhere in the world. It is the U.S., not China, that has 800 military bases scattered all around the world. A good chunk of these U.S. bases encircle China, and U.S. nuclear subs constantly patrol waters off China’s east coast. The Chinese have no such equivalent, so the reasonable question to ask is: “Who is a security threat to whom?”
The U.S., determined to be the world’s top gun, has also sought to control what nations China deals with around the world. The U.S. has tried to force China to end its neutrality in the Ukraine-Russia War, and it has condemned Chinese attempts to offer a peace plan to end that war. There, too, the U.S. backed what has now proven to be the blowing up of the Nordstream Pipeline by Ukraine. Imagine how the U.S. would react if China did anything like this.
The Biden administration also sees China, a big buyer of Iranian oil, as having considerable leverage with Tehran, and despite the economic relations between those two countries, it tries to get China to cut all ties with Iran and join its campaign against that country.
Again, imagine how the U.S. would react if China patrolled U.S. waters with nuclear missile submarines, flew its warplanes over Long Island or San Francisco Bay, and told the U.S. to stop backing the countries responsible for genocide in Gaza and the blowing up of international energy infrastructure.
Even as Biden claims he wants improved relations, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Biden was “not going to be afraid to confront where confrontation is needed on issues where we don’t see eye to eye.”
Xi is justifiably looking for assurances from Biden that the U.S. will not support Taiwan independence, start a new Cold War, or suppress China’s economic growth.
In the hours before the meeting, White House officials said Biden was coming into the talks bolstered by signs the U.S. economy is in a stronger position than China’s and that the U.S. is building stronger alliances throughout the Pacific.
The U.S. president, speaking at a campaign fundraiser on Tuesday evening, pointed to his upcoming meeting as an example of how “re-established American leadership in the world is taking hold.” As for China, the president told donors, it has “real problems.”
He was referring to the International Monetary Fund’s recently reduced growth forecasts for China. The IMF predicted economic expansion of 5% this year and 4.2% in 2024 for China, down slightly from previous forecasts. There are of course differences in scale, but it’s worth noting that the pace of predicted growth is still greater for China than that of the United States, where it is predicted that growth for the same period will be at 3.2%.
Foreign companies operating in China say tensions with Washington over technology, trade, and other issues are causing some to reassess their plans for investing in the Chinese market. This, of course, has been the goal of many of the U.S. propaganda attacks on China: Make investors nervous about political tensions and get them to put their money somewhere else..
The unfortunate thing about the Biden administration’s approach to China is that it sidetracks or prevents what should be the cooperation of both countries to meet perhaps the biggest challenge facing the world: the struggle to reset environmental policies in order to save the planet.
At home in the U.S., Biden has to do battle with powerful fossil fuel capitalist interests to realize any of his environmental goals. In China, he could have a great friend with whom to cooperate on these matters.
China, US make ‘breakthrough’ agreement on tackling climate change, but US needs to do more
Global Times, 15 November 2023
China and the US agreed to jointly tackle global warming and operationalize a working group focused on areas including energy transition, methane, the circular economy and resource efficiency, low-carbon development and deforestation, according to a document issued by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) on Wednesday.
Chinese experts hailed the document titled “Sunnylands Statement on Enhancing Cooperation to Address the Climate Crisis” as a hard-earned achievement between the two countries amid a thaw in tensions. It paves way for closer global cooperation ahead of the upcoming COP28 climate conference in the UAE, but Washington should also take concrete actions and not walk back its own promises on climate cooperation, experts said.
China and the US decide to operationalize the Working Group on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s, to engage in dialogue and cooperation and accelerate concrete climate actions.
China and the US recognize that the climate crisis has increasingly affected countries around the world, remain committed to the effective implementation of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, reflecting equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances, to achieve the Paris Agreement’s aims, which is to hold the global average temperature increase to well below 2 C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 C, according to the statement.
China and the US decide to operationalize the Working Group on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s, to engage in dialogue and cooperation and accelerate concrete climate actions in the 2020s.
The Working Group will focus on the areas of cooperation that have been identified in the document, including on energy transition, methane, circular economy and resource efficiency, low-carbon and sustainable provinces or prefectures and cities, and deforestation, as well as any agreed topics.
Both countries stress the importance of COP28 in responding meaningfully to the climate crisis during this critical decade and beyond. They are aware of the important role they play in terms of both national responses and working together cooperatively to address the goals of the Paris Agreement and promote multilateralism.
Chinese scientists hailed the cooperation reached by China and the US this time as a “breakthrough” as it marks a “top-down” approach in which the governments lead a working group to make sure the goals are realized, instead of the usual bottom-up model in climate change discussions, when countries raise their own goals but lack any top design to help them turn the goals into reality, Yang Fuqiang, a research fellow at Peking University’s Research Institute for Energy, told the Global Times.
Yang pointed out that the statement emphasizes effective implementation and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, which are in line with China’s stance on differentiated onuses between developed and developing countries in terms of tackling climate change.
“Those signs suggest that both countries are making the most serious commitment ever in climate cooperation,” Yang said.
The MEE said that the statement is the fruit of multiple meetings between China Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry in China and the US since July.
Climate negotiations between China and the US came to a standstill after former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s highly provocative visit to the island of Taiwan last year. This summer, Kerry was among a slew of high-level US officials to visit China to negotiate with Xie on cooperation on climate change. Xie also went to California from November 4 to 7 this year.
Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, called the statement a hard-earned result not only on climate change, but also a signal of the warming up China-US ties.
“The easing of tension between the two gives each other more impetus to push for more concrete cooperation on issues of mutual concern… take climate change as an example, there were divergences between the two countries on this matter. Now as the ice is thawing, both managed to find ways of resolving those differences,” said Li, noting that such a breakthrough agreement between the world’s two biggest economies, ahead of COP28, helps pave the way for wider and more meaningful international cooperation on tackling global warming.
However, Chinese experts also pointed out there is a long to-do list for the US to demonstrate its sincerity on climate cooperation. The US needs to overcome its flip-flopping on climate policies during the transition of office, as Democrats are proactive while Republicans are more suspicious of climate issues, said Li, noting that the uncertainty of US climate policy poses a big challenge for China-US climate cooperation.
Former president Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change not only put the US at odds with the international community, but hugely jeopardized global effort in tackling global warming.
Li believes the US should take concrete actions such as shouldering more responsibility to help developing countries adapt to global warming, and remove obstacles imposed on China’s green products.
Washington has been seeking to crack down on China’s solar panel industry in recent years. The US Senate voted in May this year to reinstate tariffs on solar panels from Chinese companies in Southeast Asia that had been found to be coming into the US which it claimed were “in violation of trade rules.”